Michael's Wor(l)d BLOG

A Blogsite for Christian News, Features, Interview and Review articles on The Church Around the World. I seek to be MIKE: Meaningful, Informative, Kind, Entertaining.

My Photo
Location: United States

Michael Ireland is an international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Lake Forest, California. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in September, 1995. He is married with two adult children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to United Christian Broadcasters , a British Christian radio station. His stories for ASSIST News may be viewed at ASSIST News Service Michael's writing activities are a sponsored ministry department -- Michael Ireland Media Missionary (MIMM) -- of Artists in Christian Testimony (ACT) International where you can donate online to his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.'

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Worship God, Not Work: Faith in the Workplace

Each weekday morning, my six-year-old son gets himself ready for school in about thirty minutes—clothes on, bed made, breakfast eaten, and teeth brushed. He's not in a rush to get to school, but to play with his Legos. He loves to make things.

This shouldn't surprise me. He is made in the image of a God who makes things.Paul taught this same truth in Athens: "God made the world and everything in it. He is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands" (Acts 17:24).

But Scriptures are clear that people make things too. This is part of why we work. In Acts 9, the people of Joppa mourn the death of Tabitha. When Peter visits them, they hold up clothing Tabitha had made as evidence that she was good.

The people didn't love Tabitha because of her work. They loved her work because it was a gift to the world, like everything Tabitha did.God made Tabitha to be a person who loves to make clothes.

God made my son to be a person who loves to make things with Legos.God made you. Whatever you make in your work is a gift back to the world and to God. Remember that.


Marcus Goodyear

Senior Editor, TheHighCalling.org

Prolific Worship Leader Matt Redman Presents 10,000 Reasons July 12

Nashville, TN (May 24, 2011) -- Prolific worship leader and GRAMMY ® nominated singer/songwriter Matt Redman has been giving life to worship songs for over fifteen years.

Penning church favorites such as “Blessed Be Your Name,” “Heart of Worship” and “You Never Let Go” to the more recent "Our God," and “You Alone Can Rescue” he has led worship for thousands at Passion conferences and events held around the globe.

This summer Redman will continue unleashing inventive anthems for the church on his eighth album sixstepsrecords release 10,000 Reasons available July 12. Though Redman moved back to the United Kingdom in August 2010, he returned to Atlanta earlier this year to record 10,000 Reasons with over 1,000 worship leaders from across the country during LIFT: A Worship Leader Collective, put on by Passion City Church and sixstepsrecords.The live recording makes this album what it is: “There’s something that happens in the worshipping, singing church that you don’t find anywhere else on the face of the earth … I hope people end up hearing that on the album; it hopefully gives some life to the songs,” says Redman.

Redman co-wrote with many friends on this album including Jonas Myrin, Jason Ingram, Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher, Tim Wanstall, and Jesse Reeves. Many of the songs were born in Brighton, England, a town where Redman and his family are serving as active parts of a congregation reaching out to those in the city.

Redman’s crossover experience with the American and British church has affected his songwriting, particularly now that he attends this Brighton church plant: “With a new church, you’re very mindful of the un-churched coming in,” explains the father of five.

“You have to find ways to not water down your faith but to be lyrically as accessible as possible. That’s an endless challenge. It makes me always want to keep the cross front and center.”

Not all of the eleven songs on 10,000 Reasons were inspired in the Redmans’ new Brighton locale. “Never Once,” the first single from the new album, began in the Redmans’ Atlanta home, where he and his family lived for two years helping plant Passion City Church with friends Chris Tomlin and Louie and Shelley Giglio.

Returning to Atlanta to see to their house still on the market, Redman found himself standing in his family’s now empty kitchen with guitar in hand. He was alone with no sound of children around, no furniture or wall-hangings, only the echo of guitar strings. Redman had time to think: “I looked over twenty plus years of being a Christian—so much battle and so much blessing. I just had a sense of the utter faithfulness of God.”

With as impressive a track record as one worship leader can have, writing songs that have earned numerous awards, publishing books, including his upcoming book Mirror Ball in stores July 1, and belonging to one of the most impacting worship movements this century, Redman has managed to keep himself out of it and place Christ in the center of it.

After years of experience, the worship leader concluded, “You can have clever chord progressions. You can work hard at getting some sort of nice sounding lyrics, but at the end, I just want a song that connects people with God.”

For more information on Matt Redman, please visit http://www.mattredman.com/.

About Matt Redman: Matt Redman’s songwriting is synonymous with integrity and continues to impact churches around the world. Leading a generation of worshipers, his songs have been recorded by Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith, David Crowder*Band, Rebecca St. James, Tree 63, Kutless and Passion among others. A key songwriter for today’s church, an active worship leader for Passion conferences around the world, Redman has a history of success having garnered eight Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and recently received a GRAMMY ® nod for “Best Gospel Song” for “Our God” featured on Passion: Awakening. Additionally, Redman has 21 songs in the CCLI Top 500, with 5 populating the Top 50. Redman's eighth album, 10,000 Reasons, releases July 12 on sixstepsrecords.

New made-for-TV movie "Field of Vision" to air on NBC June 11

“Field of Vision” is a captivating made-for-TV family drama that blends mystery, intrigue and action with a memorable life lesson about the challenges and rewards of doing the right thing.

Through mysterious footage captured on an old video camera, star quarterback Tyler McFarland learns that some of his teammates have been bullying the new transfer student, Cory Walker. Aware that standing up for Cory might get his friends kicked off the team and cost the school the state championship, Tyler must choose between winning and doing what is right.

This is the 6th installment from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT)in their Family Movie Night initiative. The latest made-for-TV family movie, “Field of Vision,” starring Faith Ford, premieres on June 11th at 8/7 on NBC.

Tune in and keep these wholesome programs rolling out on Primetime TV!!

Link to Official “Field of Vision” movie trailer: FIELD OF VISION

Key values at Play in “Field of Vision:”

• Courage

Doing what you know to be right even when it is difficult or unpopular to do so

• Discernment

Exercising good judgment and making right decisions

• Accountability

Taking responsibility for your actions by being answerable to others

• Looking Out For Others

Actively and intentionally working to include others and ensure their well-being

• Story’s Universal Truth

It takes courage to do the right thing

Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of their Family Movie Night initiative with the announcement that they will continue to deliver high-quality family entertainment with the addition of five more movies in 2011.

The P&G/Walmart Family Movie Night has already been seen by nearly 22 million viewers while nearly a half million of the respective DVDs have been sold, providing a “stay at home” option for families to spend quality time together. For more information visit FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT

Caring for the Elderly: Talk about It

By Chuck Colson, via Crosswalk.com

I was traveling in Texas recently when I bumped into an old friend -- a man whose opinion on financial matters I really value. We got into a fascinating conversation; let me share it with you.

My friend said, “I’m in a very good position financially. But both my parents, and my wife’s parents, are on Social Security. One night I sat down and thought about the cost to the taxpayers of the members of my own family. And then I realized that my wife and I could easily pay for those benefits ourselves. But somehow it had never occurred to us that we ought to.”

His comments really struck me. I remembered that when I was ten years old, my grandparents moved in with us. During the Depression, there were no government programs or nursing homes for the elderly. When relatives got sick, their families took care of them. But it wasn’t easy. My grandmother had terminal cancer. My mother exhausted herself caring for her day and night and never complained, even though she had so many other responsibilities, including me. But my point is that it never occurred to my parents that they were making any special sacrifice. This is just what you did for your family.

How different things are today. Now, when an elderly person becomes ill, it’s typical for relatives to strip him of all his assets, and then put him on Medicaid. Is this the right thing to do?

Is it honest to take away everything from a sick loved one, and then claim he or she has no assets? And how do our parents feel when we choose to put them in a home instead of bringing them into our home?

A bigger question is, what is our country’s philosophy now, given our current debt crisis? Do we go back to caring for our own, or do we palm everybody off on Uncle Sam?

Well, the Biblical model is quite clear: You care for your own family if you possibly can. Centuries of church history back up this view.

I know what many of you are thinking: If I take care of mom, I’d have to quit my job. And if we pay for all of her care -- prescriptions, doctor bills -- we’d lose everything we put away for our children’s education.

These are legitimate concerns. But we ought to be talking about it in the church. So far, all we’ve seen is religious believers attacking lawmakers for cutting programs for the poor and sick, bankruptcy or no bankruptcy. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to these folks to ask what the Bible says about this.

Families are responsible for sick and elderly relatives, certainly if they can well afford to help. (The Bible has a lot to say about the evil of debt, too, I might add.)

I have to admit: My own mother died in an accident before I had to make any difficult decision about her care. Although, as many of you know, I do have an autistic grandson, and I’m not about to let the state take over our job.

But most Christians will have to face this choice. Do we know what the Bible teaches? Are we prepared to follow God’s commands?

Let’s start talking about it. Go to BreakPoint.org and click on “Speak Out with Chuck.” Share your thoughts . . . and let’s be open and honest with one other, all the while recognizing that caring for the elderly and the infirm is a difficult and even traumatic issue for so many.

This article published on May 24, 2011.

This article first published on May 20, 2011. Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Acronymn for my Blog

MIKE: Meaningful, Informational, Kind, Entertaining

Can Romance Novels Hurt Your Heart?

By Russell Moore, via Crosswalk Marriage

On the nightstand of a woman in your church, there’s a Christian romance novel and a Bible. Does that matter? On the Kindle of a teenage Christian woman in your congregation’s youth group, there’s a “young adult” fiction bestseller. Should that concern you?

A new book by Boston University researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, offers a disturbing look at how Internet search engines reveal much about the sexual and emotional desires of men and women, and how they differ. The research confirms in some ways what almost everyone knows: men are visually engaged, attracted to youth and sexual novelty, and are thus vulnerable to visual pornography.

The research explores further what the commercialized romance industry tells us about what it means to be a woman (at least in a fallen world). Women are much less likely to be drawn to visual pornography (although more do so than one might think), but are quite likely to be involved in such media as Internet romantic fiction or the old-fashioned romance novel.

The romance novel follows, the researchers argue, a typical pattern. The hero is almost never, they say, a blue collar worker, a bureaucrat, or someone in the traditionally feminine occupations (hairdresser, kindergarten teacher, etc.). He is competent, confident, and usually wealthy. He is, in short, an alpha male.

But, they argue, this alpha male is typically a rough character who learns to be tamed into kindness, kindness to her. Thus, you wind up with not only the strong silent cowboys with the soft interior life, but also these days vampires and werewolves and Vikings.

And all of this is moving toward the climax of the romance story: the “happily-ever-after.”

“Romance novels rarely have a sequel,” the book concludes. “Once the hero and heroine are joined in love or matrimony, they get their Happily-Ever-After, presumably with a bevy of children and domestic bliss. Further adventures would violate the female fantasy of true, committed, eternal love.”

“Though there are many series of modern romance novels, once a couple gets their Happily-Ever-After in one book, they only resurface as beloved supporting characters in future books, with each subsequent book’s focus on a new hero or heroine.”

Of course, as they do with pornography, these scholars explain all of these archetypal female desires in a Darwinian need for the woman to seek out a mate who can be simultaneously monogamous and protective of the offspring. This evolutionary desire is seen in the strong male who pours out his feelings of devotion, and whose lifelong commitment is frozen in time and certainty in the Happily-Ever-After moment.

While I don’t share all the presuppositions of these scholars, I think they’re on to something about the allure of the commercialized romance story. Pornography and romance novels aren’t (or at least aren’t always) morally equivalent, but they “work” the same way.

Both are based on an illusion. Pornography is based on the illusion of a perfectly willing, always aroused partner without the “work” of relational intimacy. Often romance novels or their film equivalents do the same thing for the emotional needs of women that pornography offers for the erotic urges of men.

And in both cases, what the “market” wants is sameness. Men want the illusion of women who look just like women but are, in terms of sexual response, just like men. Women want the illusion of men who are “real” men, but, in terms of a concept of romance, are just like women. In both artificial eros and artificial romance, there is the love of the self, not the mystery of the other.

Thankfully, we do not yet have a market for “Christian” pornography (but just wait, someone will find a way). But we do have a market for “Christian” romance novels. Now some of those classified as such aren’t really “romance novels” at all. They’re complicated looks at the human condition, especially male/female relationships, from a Christian vantage point.

A lot of this genre, though, is simply a Christianization of a form not intended to enhance intimacy but to escape to an artificial illusion of it. Granted, there’s no graphic sexuality here. The hero and heroine don’t sleep together; they pray together. But that’s just the point.

How many disappointed middle-aged women in our congregations are reading these novels as a means of comparing the “strong spiritual leaders” depicted there with what by comparison must seem to be underachieving lumps lying next to them on the couch?

This is not to equate morally “romance novels” with the grave soul destruction of pornography. But it is worth asking, “Is what I’m consuming leading me toward contentment with my spouse (or future spouse) or away from it? Is it pointing me to the other in one-flesh union or to an eroticized embodiment of my own desires? Is this the mystery or a mirage?

Labels: , , , , , ,